Sunday, May 29, 2016

2016-13 Crescent City Florida


Moss Park
Crescent City Florida

Memorial Day Weekend

Campground:  Sned-Acres Family Campground.  $35 one night, and two nights $17.50  Passport America Rate.  Swimming pool (water looks kind of green), Laundromat, lots of trees, narrow winding roads.  Older park with concrete pads on some sites. Ok, but not great.

from St Cloud to Crescent City Florida

Well, if you know me at all, you know I hated to leave Moss Park.  But it was time.  I spent a little more time with Dorothy in St Cloud and also attended a retirement ceremony at the Naval Training Center where I had also retired from over 12 years ago before heading out.

Lovie, on the right
Rob Mathews doing the presentations
Lovie sitting with friends as the ceremonies begin

the mirrored building is where I previously worked

Lovie Tompkins was the retiree.  She was our division secretary a wonderful woman of color if I’m using the proper term they use these days.  Her name is so appropriate, as all the speakers could not say two words without sharing stories of her warm heart and loving attitude during 42 years of service to the navy.  Although the building is in the middle of Central Florida Universities research park, you can’t mistake it being a military installation.  With security fences and the largest gate and sentry post I’ve seen in a long time.  None of that was there when I worked there.  Once I’d been approved to enter the property, I was directed to the main entrance of the S shaped main building, where I and a few other retirees were escorted through the building and back outside where an elaborate outdoor shaded pavilion has been constructed just for presentations such as this.  Rob Mathews was a superb MC.  I got a chance to briefly say hi to a few former employees but of course, even though I had worked there for 32 years, did not have the opportunity to tour the facility.  A funny thing did occur as a friend Linda and I entered the reception room.  A father and son who I will not name, also worked at the center were right in front of me.  The son still works there and was gushing to his dad about my retirement adventures on the road.  I was introduced to the dad who is now a rather rotund individual.  White thinning hair and almost a scowl on his face.  We looked into each others eyes, did not shake hands as his son continued on saying, “you remember Doug, he’s having such a great time exploring the country in his RV”.  We continued to look at each other, both not saying a word to each other, he knowing, that he was one of the few road blocks in my efforts to move ahead and become a Publication Specialist.  Even though I’d scored the highest rating for the job, he still would not hire me for the position.  I eventually did get more promotions, but his efforts delayed my advancement for a couple of years.  I gave a somewhat smirky smile as I looked one last time at the guy before turning around and telling Linda I was ready to leave.  We were both relieved to get out of there.  As with any situation, looking back can have some great memories as well as a few unpleasant reminders of the struggles along the way.

sand piles are magnets to kids and are
more fun than some play ground equipment

Back at my favorite campground, Moss Park, I enjoyed my last day there as many campers started to fill in all the campsites for the Memorial Day weekend.  A large pile of sand is near my campsite with a temporary barrier surrounding it to keep kids off of it.  Well, don’t you know, any pile of dirt is a magnet to kids.  It was only minutes after a couple of families with children arrived that the kids were screaming and yelling with glee as they scampered to the top of the sand pile.  King of the Mountain!  And the Memorial Day holiday has begun with excited and happy kids, just as it should be.

a few more Moss Park pictures

the mile long road back to campsites

the birds have the beach till this weekend

Distance Traveled:  98 miles

views around the small town of Crescent City Florida

a hotel and restaurant near the lake 

mural of a steam boat that used to ply the lakes around here

Crescent City.  Such a short drive barely two hours of driving and half of it on toll roads and I-4 a major highway running through Florida.  The other half was along a county road hwy 17.  All through small rural towns like Deland, De Leon Springs, Pierson, Seville and into Crescent City which sits between two lakes.  I arrived at the Sned-Acres Family campground to take advantage of my Passport America discount.  Though it’s under new ownership, it remains an older somewhat rundown campground with narrow one lane streets along a hilly site.  The guy who checked me in took over 20 minutes to figure out how to change the reservation as I told him I was only staying three nights, not the four nights listed on the computer.  He tried to charge me for more nights at full price and you know I like my Passport bargains, so that wouldn’t do.  After finally getting the billing corrected, I was directed to my campsite.  As I looped around to get to the site and back-in, I cautiously followed my orange cones that I put out, stopping and getting out of the truck to check all sides.  Fortunately, I looked up as well and I saw I was hung up on two overhead electrical wires.  I as able to ease back out without doing damage to anything on top of my camper, but couldn’t say whether the power lines had any damage done to them.  I was directed to a better site, with no low hanging power cables.  But of course my camper was now facing the exit to the park and with those narrow roads, I had to exit the park, drive down the road a half mile, before I was able to turn around in a Winn-Dixie parking lot and return to the campground.

Well some days are like that aren’t they?  I’m all set in a campsite and at least have a spot for the holiday weekend.  One of the few disadvantages of being a full-time Rv-er is trying to find a campsite over crowded holiday weekends.

a few quick shots of Dorothy's beautiful home

often where she sits for morning coffee

Dorothy's Florida Room

and all new living room
views around the lake front where Dorothy often does
her morning walks

a Madagascar Palm tree

the children s water park play area

St Cloud has a lovely beach area along the lake

two of the three ducks Dorothy visits

great walking paths around the lake

Update on Shelter Cove Property:  Back in St Cloud, Rusty (my niece Kelly’s husband) was able to have a friend in the business look over the financials for the Shelter Cove property and it all looks fairly good.  I’ve informed the owners of the property that I am interested in purchasing the lot at the previously agreed upon price and await a message agreeing to the sale of the lot.  If approved, I plan on purchasing it in late October or early November when I once again arrive back in Florida for the winter.  Barring any last minute issues, I will become a land owner.  And me, still not ready to settle down anywhere.  But I do consider it more of an investment with the added benefit of being close to my sisters house when ever I visit the area.  Thanks Rusty, I really appreciate the research and advice.

Love being back on the road and exploring new places along the way.

Moss park and Dorothy’s home, pictures

Crescent City Florida, pictures

Sunday, May 22, 2016

2016-12 St Cloud Florida


St Cloud Florida
A Short Visit

American White Ibis

Campground:  Shelter Cove.  An Rv condominium community.  Arrived to scope out an Rv lot for sale.

the Rv Lot I am interested in purchasing

Campground:  Moss Park, an Orange County park.  $17.25 per night, senior rate.  Electric 50 amp, and water.  Dump station available.  Wonderful large easy back-in campsites.  Pristine setting between two lakes, swimming beach and backs up to 1,500 acres of forest land, great for hiking.  Lots of wildlife.

Moss Park campsite
I’ve arrived in the St Cloud area where my sister Dorothy lives along with her daughter Kelly and family who live in Kissimmee Florida.  I’m here to check out a few Rv lots in the area that are for sale and might work as a location for me when visiting with Dorothy, family and friends in the Orlando area.  The Rv lots is actually only 15 minutes from my sisters house.  As a full time Rv-er, I continue to enjoy traveling the country and don’t particularly need a permanent spot to park my camper.  However, since it would be nice to be able to pop in while traveling my beloved state of Florida and know that I would always have a spot in the St Cloud area, I’ve decided to check it out.

The owner of the lot permitted me to stay on it for a few days, which I’ve already done and I was able to check out most of the park, it’s amenities and talk to a few of the residences.  They have two Laundromats, a heated swimming pool, club house in the shape of a river boat and a mix of park model homes and Rv’s.

the rv lot I am looking at

another view of the Rv lot I'm considering 
one of the fancier double lots

love the painted concrete

one of the roads inside Shelter Cove Condominium

a lake front lot at Shelter Cove

the only turn around I could find in the park

another view of a Shelter Cove lots

Talking to the next door neighbor, Dave, I was able to learn a bit about the workings of the condo association.  Finding out they have upgraded some of the water and sewer lines.  The roads are well maintained and black top sealed on a regular basis.  All of the lots are very well maintained and the landscaping is very Florida.  Lots of Palm trees and green grass.  Of course the most expensive homes are directly on the water.

A few years back, Dave told me they had a fair share of vandalism and crime in the park, but with a strong community crime watch program they were able to get rid of the “rotten apples”.  The park in my guest-a-met about 1/3 to ½ developed as it pretty much went in the tubes in the late 70’s?  Shortly after that the home owners were able to purchase the property and it became a condo association.  It was originally designed as a campground and the lots were relatively small.  Many of the lots remain vacant but could have the water/ electric and sewer connected as they are properly platted parcels.  Much more land is owned by the condo owners and has not been platted or developed at this time.  Some of those empty lots are for sale at very reasonable rates.

another lot for sale in Shelter Cove

Lake front at Shelter Cove

that's the laundry room in Shelter Cove, with water views

Dave, the Rv neighbor told one story that was just fascinating to me.  He’s a retired police officer and Fireman so of course knows all about crime goings on…. He tells how he started doing night patrols and would occasionally see a boat land at Shelter Cove in the middle of the night no running lights and painted black, then the passengers would carry a bundle off into the woods via an ATV.  He speculates that a drug plane would land on Nova Road which is pretty deserted between St Cloud and Coco Beach at night, drop of the bundle of drugs, fly off and the relay team would load it into a boat, go across the lake and land here at Shelter Cove before transporting their drugs through the woods into the night.

He got the sheriffs attention who had a police unit hide out in a boat one evening.  When the drug runners started to get close to the Shelter Cove dock, the police unit arrived with their super powered boat and chased the culprits across the lake, into a dead end canal.  As the police got closer to the drug runners, they would ease up so as not to actually catch them, even though the police boat was much more powerful and could have caught them.  The drug runners raced like hell to get away, not realizing it was a dead end canal with lots of downed trees and debris at the end.  As the police boat slowed, they could hear the crashing of a boat off in the distance and sudden silence.  The Sheriffs boat calmly turned around and left the scene.  Dave asked them why they didn’t go in and arrest them?  The sheriff said he wasn’t concerned about what happened to the drug runners.  His only concern was to stop the drug smuggling operation which they’d accomplished that evening.  Did an alligator get them, were they injured and perished in the canal or deep in the woods, nobody knows. But since then, no dark boats with running lights turned off has ever landed at Shelter Cove again.

The lot I am looking at purchasing is a corner lot approx. one block from the lake.  It has a new large concrete pad, two utility connections on either side of the concrete pad so that a person could park their camper in either direction, depending on their preference.  The lot has a nice shed for storing stuff while away for the summer and also has four large palm trees.  It abuts one of the few full size roads through the community as most of the side roads are very narrow one way streets.

RV Lot Purchase, Benefits:

Good investment with potential to increase in value
The lot has been newly developed and well maintained
The rv lot could be rented out when I am not using it
Low condo maintenance fees
Well maintained overall property, pool, clubhouse
Very reasonable purchase price
Better investment than my current stock portfolio

Visiting family and friends

Well, isn’t that what coming back to an area I lived in for over 35 years is all about.  Although this is a short trip to check out the Rv lot, I’m also having time to visit with Dorothy and family as well as a few close friends in the Orlando area.

After moving off of the Rv lot for sale, I moved to my favorite campground in the Orlando area, Moss Park.  For those of you who have followed my blog, you know that this is a favorite county park of mine just south of the Orlando area.  I wish I could make it a home base while in the Orlando/St Cloud area, but they have a limit of two weeks and for longer stays, it just wouldn’t work out for me.  Although I could be a camp host at Moss park which I did a few years ago, we all know how that turned out.  And it was not a pleasant experience.  Dorothy came out today and we had a nice lunch at a favorite restaurant in the area called Tequila Flats then went back to the park to take a few nature shots.  We were in luck with getting some great pictures of the sand hill cranes, a family of falcons, deer and the American White Ibis.  I showed her one of my favorite places to take pictures, and that was of the canal that connects Lake Hart and Lake Mary Jane.

young baby dear playing in the water

resurrection fern, it only comes out when rained on

my Moss Park Campsite

Sand Hill Crane

my favorite place to take pictures, along the canal

canal and bridge leading into Moss Park

favorite photo op location

canal to Lake Hart

Sandhill Crane and chick

baby Hawk

corkscrew limb of an oak tree

papa Hawk watching over the nest

American White Ibis

my good friends, Pat and Ruthie
The previous day I went into Orlando and Winter Park to meet up with dear friends Patrick and Ruthie Poo.  We have been friends for way to many years to count and once we got together it was a non stop gab session that went on for five hours straight before I finally said we needed to leave.  Even then we had trouble leaving as we all enjoy each others company so much.  From beading classes that Pat leads (he creates paintings using micro beads), to love affairs and injuries.  Ruthie took quite a fall recently and Patrick has two vertebrae that are practically fused together  causing him much leg pain and will probably require surgery in the near future.  Thank goodness for the internet, face book and e-mails to keep us all connected while I travel all over this country.

Example of Pat's micro beaded painting and the cute dog
of course he does custom work for the right price
And of course visits with my sister, Dorothy and her daughter Kelly and family is always a highlight.  Even on a short visit to the area, it’s always a pleasure to visit with these folks.  The kids continue to grow and display the nicest personalities.  The latest interest is in golfing and even Dorothy and the kids, Luke and Brooke are learning the art.  Kelly and Rusty have done some very nice upgrades to their home in Kissimmee Florida and as they say, they utilize every square inch of the house.  No wasted space here.

lunch with Dorothy and family

utilizing a former empty alcove

a quick shot of Kelly and Rusty's recent kitchen upgrades

Kelly, Luke, Brooke and sister Dorothy

So what is the status on the purchase of the Lot?  I still need to see the Shelter Cove Condo financial reports.  To be continued…..

Shelter Cove Condo and Moss Park: Pictures

Moss Park Wildlife: Pictures